Frequently asked questions about marijuana licenses

Denver has a marijuana social equity program. It reserves store, transporter, cultivation, manufacturing, and hospitality licenses for social equity applicants until July 1, 2027. There is no cap on the number of licenses available to social equity applicants.

Under the program, only social equity applicants can deliver marijuana to consumers. They must hold a marijuana transporter license and delivery permit.

See below for answers to frequently asked questions about marijuana licenses. For questions that are not answered below, email marijuanainfo@denvergov.org

General questions

What medical or retail marijuana licenses or permits does the city issue?

The city issues these new medical or retail marijuana business licenses or permits:

  • Medical marijuana delivery permit
  • Medical marijuana products manufacturer license
  • Medical marijuana testing facility license
  • Medical marijuana transporter license
  • Medical marijuana off-premises storage facility permit
  • Marijuana research and development license
  • Marijuana hospitality business license. (This includes a marijuana hospitality business license with a mobile premise.)
  • Retail marijuana hospitality and sales business license
  • Retail marijuana store license
  • Retail marijuana delivery permit
  • Retail marijuana cultivation facility license
  • Retail marijuana products manufacturer license
  • Retail marijuana testing facility license
  • Retail marijuana transporter license
  • Retail marijuana off-premises storage facility permit

The city is no longer issuing new business licenses for: 

  • Medical marijuana stores
  • Medical marijuana cultivation facilities

Who can apply for a new medical or retail marijuana business license or permit?

These licenses are for eligible social equity applicants until July 1, 2027: 

  • Medical marijuana products manufacturer license
  • Medical marijuana transporter license
  • Marijuana hospitality business license. (This includes a marijuana hospitality license with a mobile premises.)
  • Retail marijuana hospitality and sales business license
  • Retail marijuana store license
  • Retail marijuana cultivation facility license
  • Retail marijuana products manufacturer license
  • Retail marijuana transporter license 

Someone does not have to qualify as a social equity applicant to apply for the following licenses and permits: 

  • Medical marijuana testing facility license
  • Medical marijuana off-premises storage facility permit (a related license is required)
  • Marijuana research and development license
  • Retail marijuana testing facility license
  • Retail marijuana off-premises storage facility permit (a related license is required)
  • Delivery permit attached to a store license
  • Applicants can apply for a retail marijuana business license that will be commonly owned and co-located with an existing medical marijuana business of the same type. For example, an existing medical marijuana products manufacturer can apply for a retail marijuana products manufacturer’s license that will be co-located and commonly owned. 

New and existing medical or retail marijuana store licensees, and new medical or retail marijuana transporter licensees who qualify as social equity applicants, can apply for:

  • Medical marijuana delivery permit
  • Retail marijuana delivery permit

Where can I apply for a new medical or retail marijuana business license or permit?

Applications for new medical or retail marijuana business licenses and permits are available through Denver's Online Permitting and Licensing Center. Learn more about how to apply for new marijuana business license or permit. Applications for marijuana research and development and marijuana test facility licenses are not available online. Learn more about how to apply for a new marijuana business license for R&D or testing facility.

Where can I find laws, rules and regulations that govern marijuana licenses?

Use the links below to read city and state laws:

Where can I open a marijuana business?

Refer to the Marijuana Facility Location Guide(PDF, 401KB). The guide provides tools for applicants to conduct initial research on locations. It also includes information about neighborhoods of undue concentration. Information on other location, proximity, and zoning requirements for different marijuana businesses.

For marijuana stores, hospitality business, hospitality and sales businesses, and cultivations, use the Denver marijuana proximity check tool. It searches the address of your proposed location. The tool will help you research whether your location meets the proximity rules.

The marijuana licensed establishment permitting and licensing guide(PDF, 267KB), can be used by businesses who have a physical licensed premise. To understand the steps a business may need to navigate with all city departments the guide includes an overview of the commercial construction process and inspections. For marijuana stores, hospitality business, hospitality and sales businesses, and cultivations, you can use the Denver marijuana proximity check tool to search the address of your proposed location. The tool will help you research whether your location meets the proximity rules.

Which marijuana licenses require a needs and desires hearing?

Applications for a new marijuana store license, marijuana hospitality license, and marijuana hospitality and sales license require a needs and desires hearing. Applications for a change of location of these license types also require a needs and desires hearing. At the director’s discretion, a hearing may be required upon renewal for these licenses. For more information about needs and desires hearings, see the Public Hearings page.

Social equity

What are the eligibility criteria for a social equity applicant?

The city’s eligibility criteria align with the social equity applicant criteria established in House Bill 20-1424 and the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division’s rules. To qualify, an individual must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • The applicant is a Colorado resident, and
  • The applicant has not been the beneficial owner of a license subject to administrative action issued by the State Licensing Authority or the Department of Excise and Licenses (local requirement) resulting in the revocation of a marijuana license, and
  • The applicant demonstrates at least one of the following:
    • The applicant has resided for at least 15 years between 1980 and 2010 in a census tract designated by the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) as an opportunity zone. Or a census tract designated as a disproportionate impacted area by the State Licensing Authority;
    • The applicant or the applicant’s parent, legal guardian, sibling, spouse, child, or minor in their guardianship was arrested for a marijuana offense, convicted of a marijuana offense, or was subject to civil asset forfeiture related to a marijuana investigation;
    • The applicant’s household income in the year before the application did not exceed 50% of the state median income as measured by the number of people who reside in the applicant’s household.  

A social equity applicant, alone or with other social equity applicants, must own at least 51% of the license. Direct more specific questions about the state’s definition of a social equity applicant to the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division.

How do I qualify as a social equity applicant?

Step-by-step instructions are on the How to Qualify as a Social Equity Applicant webpage. You will be need to show eligibility during the state and local application processes.

What is the State Accelerator Program?

The State Accelerator Program allows individuals who might have faced barriers to entry in Colorado's retail (adult-use) regulated marijuana industry to own and operate a marijuana business license. It is part of an agreed-upon partnership with an existing marijuana business that has been endorsed by the Marijuana Enforcement Division as an “accelerator-endorsed licensee." An accelerator-endorsed licensee serves as the "host" in the accelerator program. They provide capital and/or technical support to a social equity licensee. It allows the social equity licensee to operate as an accelerator store, accelerator manufacturer and accelerator cultivator on the same licensed premises or on a separate licensed premises provided by the accelerator-endorsed licensee. Applications to take part in the accelerator program were available beginning Jan. 1, 2021. For all rules about the accelerator program, see MED's Permanent Rules. For more information on the program, visit MED’s Social Equity website.


Can social equity applicants sell their licenses?

Until the exclusivity period expires (July 1, 2027), licenses granted to social equity applicants must be majority-owned by one or more social equity licensees.  

A social equity licensee can sell some or all of the ownership interest in their license. But one or more social equity licensees must hold at least 51% of the ownership interest. All licenses issued to social equity applicants under the social equity program will be flagged for an extra level of review for a transfer of ownership application. This will ensure the transfer of ownership will result in one or more social equity applicants holding 51% or more of the ownership interest.

Delivery

Who can apply for a marijuana delivery permit?

  • New retail and medical marijuana transporter licensees who qualify as social equity licensees
  • Retail and medical marijuana store licensees

Who can conduct deliveries?

Licensed marijuana transporters with a delivery permit can deliver marijuana to consumers. They must have a transporter license and delivery permit issued by the City and County of Denver.

Marijuana stores in Denver are not permitted to deliver marijuana to consumers. Stores outside of Denver must use a transporter with a Denver delivery permit to deliver marijuana into Denver. Stores in Denver must use a transporter with a Denver delivery permit to deliver marijuana outside of Denver.

Where can I apply for a marijuana delivery permit?

Applications for delivery permits are available through Denver's Online Permitting and Licensing Center. Learn more about how to apply for new marijuana business license or permit.

Where can I find a list of stores and transporters with delivery permits?

This list of delivery permits issued to stores and transporters gets updated daily.

Hospitality

Who can apply for a marijuana hospitality, retail marijuana hospitality and sales, or mobile hospitality license?

Marijuana hospitality business licenses (including a marijuana hospitality business license with a mobile premises) and retail marijuana hospitality and sales business licenses are reserved for social equity applicants until July 1, 2027.

Where can I apply for a marijuana hospitality, retail marijuana hospitality and sales, or mobile hospitality license?

Applications for marijuana hospitality business licenses (including hospitality business licenses with a mobile premises) and retail marijuana hospitality and sales business licenses are available through Denver's Online Permitting and Licensing Center. Learn more about how to apply for new marijuana business license or permit.

Are unlicensed marijuana consumption establishments allowed in Denver?

Pursuant to Chapter 6 Article V of the Denver Revised Municipal Code, Sec. 6-205: It shall be unlawful for any person, whether or not they are licensed in another jurisdiction, to engage in any form of business or commerce involving marijuana within the city without a valid local license or permit issued pursuant to this Article V authorizing that business and a corresponding state license or permit issued pursuant to the Colorado Marijuana Code authorizing the same business.

Where can mobile hospitality businesses operate?

A mobile hospitality business must submit a route log to the Department of Excise and Licenses at least 7 days prior to departure. The log must identify the route origin, destination, and all stops in between. Section 6-217(c) of the Denver Revised Municipal Code prohibits a mobile hospitality business from including any school, childcare establishment, alcohol or drug treatment facility, or city-owned recreation center or pool in its route. A mobile hospitality business may stop at a park to pick up or drop off passengers, but marijuana consumption must cease while the vehicle is on park property pursuant to Denver Parks and Recreation rules.